Punk Subculture

Great Essays
Born out of a reaction to challenge the mainstream, youth subcultures are an ever-evolving and important part of society. Along with music, dress is a vital tool in the subcultural meaning system, used to express and convey the views of its participants. In this essay, I will be examining the meanings conveyed through the dress of punks in England in the late 1970s. subculture specifically what? Ideals / fetishistic
“Youth subcultures can be defined as meaning systems, modes of expression or lifestyles developed by groups in subordinate structural positions in response to dominant systems — and which reflect their attempt to solve structural contradictions rising from the wider societal context.” (Brake, 1985)

Punk emerged in England's depressed
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Everything the punks wore, everything could be considered as ‘punk’ had the only aim to convey a message of nonconformity. Punk was sexual, violent, nihilistic, anarchistic and frustrated. The punk subculture was primarily concerned with concepts such as anti-establishment, freedom and individualism. By using their dress to outwardly express their extreme values, the most mundane objects take on a symbolic dimension, becoming a form of stigmata, tokens of a self-imposed exile. (Hedbige) Punks borrowed items from their everyday life and incorporated it within their overall dress, re-contextualizing them to communicate new meanings, for example, where safety pinned clothing and bin liners symbolized a material and spiritual poverty in an exaggerated form.

Punk dress was an anti-fashion statement. Anti-fashion, as defined by Ted Polhemus, refers to all styles of adornment that fall outside the organized system of fashion. The punks rejected the mainstream fashion trends of the late 1970’s such as loose, relaxed clothing or jumpsuits. Instead, cheap trashy fabrics in vulgar designs like mock leopard skin, long discarded by the quality end of the fashion industry, were salvaged by the punks and turned into garments which offered self-conscious commentaries on the notions of modernity and
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Images include skulls, demons, the logo of the band Misfits and a punk woman. Source: Wojcik (1995).

Tattoos and piercings were widely embraced forms of body modifications by punks that transgressed conventional notions about proper appearance of the body. Punks prided themselves on the handmade quality of their body art, rejecting mainstream tattooing parlours believing that they were too expensive or conservative to perform their tattoos. This rejection of mainstream tattoo artists meant that punk tattooing was further isolated from social constrain. Many punks tattooed themselves or each other, the result being somewhat crude designs that reflected the punk Do-It-Yourself ethos.

Body piercing was done in parts other than the usual accepted placement in the ear lobe. The placement of studs and pins in facial body parts such as eyebrows and cheeks, noses or lips for the masses was then quite unusual even after the freedom of the 1960s. Popular piercing styles such as razor blades or safety pins through the ears, nose or mouth were common. Piercings invoke powerful symbolic connotations such as deviance, pain, masochism and self-destruction, which disturbed general mainstream

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